Government Technology

Is PASS ID Better Than REAL ID? (Analysis)



August 14, 2009 By

Photo: U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano

The deadline for REAL ID implementation is fast approaching. Under current rules, states participating in REAL ID must begin issuing compliant drivers' licenses by December 31, 2009. That is, unless, these states have applied for an extension to May 11, 2011. Of course, there are also 23 states that have passed legislation partially or completely prohibiting participation in the REAL ID program.

The REAL ID Act of 2005, which was written in response to the 9/11 Commission's findings that 18 of the 19 hijackers had obtained fraudulent state drivers' licenses, has always been controversial. The act requires states to issue drivers' licenses that conform to federally mandated security standards - with no federal money to do so. Almost immediately the act was decried by organizations at all points on the political spectrum as a gross invasion of privacy as well as a national identification card in disguise.

The 2011 extension is just the latest setback for REAL ID advocates. Signed into law May 11, 2005, the act was supposed to take effect in May 2008. But an unprecedented revolt in the states has kept kicking the REAL ID can farther down the road. The current timeline calls for full implementation to take effect by 2017. However, with nearly half the states refusing to cooperate, REAL ID's future is uncertain. In fact, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano recently declared REAL ID "DOA" -- dead on arrival.

Napolitano is the former governor of Arizona, one of the states that opted not to comply with REAL ID. She also served as chairwoman for the National Governors Association, an organization that has fought hard against REAL ID. Her track record opposing REAL ID and her declaration that the legislation is dead would seem to put the issue to rest. Unfortunately Napolitano has only complicated matters, ironically, by advocating a new bill called PASS ID.

In June, the PASS ID bill was introduced in the Senate. Many are calling it "REAL ID-lite." S.1261, the Providing Additional Security in States' Identification Act of 2009, a.k.a. PASS ID, is supposed to streamline REAL ID by removing the most contentious components while granting some federal funding to help states comply. Of the many problematic rules prescribed by REAL ID, perhaps none were as vociferously objected to as the requirement that states build interoperable databases for storing sensitive citizen data. This data would be accessible by government agencies, like departments of motor vehicles and law enforcement, and would facilitate interstate data sharing. Furthermore, REAL ID made no concessions for protecting the data of police officers, judges or victims of domestic abuse. PASS ID does away with this element but keeps in place most of the other REAL ID cornerstones.

PASS Relaxes Security Requirements

Under PASS ID, states would still be required to implement drivers' licenses that feature digital photographs, digital signatures and a common machine-readable technology, such as a bar code. According to realnightmare.org -- which opposes REAL ID and is linked to the American Civil Liberties Union -- PASS ID would also downgrade the standard for machine-readable technology to include insecure features like radio frequency identification, commonly known as RFID. PASS ID also still mandates a database of digital source documents, such as birth certificates, that prove an individual's identity. Though these databases would not need to interoperate among states, privacy groups like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation still claim this would be a hacker's dream come true.

A PASS ID would also still be required for any citizen who wishes to board an airplane or enter a federal facility. However, this clause would not go into effect until five years after PASS ID is implemented, presumably to allow time


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Comments

george gaguzis    |    Commented August 20, 2009

Absolute verification of data is much different than actually sharing the data collected from database to database. Social Security Administration has demonstrated that very well with thier SSOLV process. To think and promote otherwise is a demonstration of the naysayers total disregard for the obvious, or just plain incompetence and inability to rationally deal with personal data and data security.

george gaguzis    |    Commented August 20, 2009

Absolute verification of data is much different than actually sharing the data collected from database to database. Social Security Administration has demonstrated that very well with thier SSOLV process. To think and promote otherwise is a demonstration of the naysayers total disregard for the obvious, or just plain incompetence and inability to rationally deal with personal data and data security.

george gaguzis    |    Commented August 20, 2009

Absolute verification of data is much different than actually sharing the data collected from database to database. Social Security Administration has demonstrated that very well with thier SSOLV process. To think and promote otherwise is a demonstration of the naysayers total disregard for the obvious, or just plain incompetence and inability to rationally deal with personal data and data security.

Tom Badger in RI    |    Commented December 25, 2009

The reason why Real ID is failing is that the Democrat Party is Athletic Supporters for the illegal alien. I'd say it's time for the citizenry to strike back.

Tom Badger in RI    |    Commented December 25, 2009

The reason why Real ID is failing is that the Democrat Party is Athletic Supporters for the illegal alien. I'd say it's time for the citizenry to strike back.

Tom Badger in RI    |    Commented December 25, 2009

The reason why Real ID is failing is that the Democrat Party is Athletic Supporters for the illegal alien. I'd say it's time for the citizenry to strike back.

Anonymous    |    Commented March 18, 2010

Without any requirements for protecting what would become a large database, the first time a criminal breaks into any state DMV and creates a fake ID, the entire system is useless. If you don't provide data security this becomes a giant waste of time and money, and Congress would have to go through this all over again. The other problem is that this is unfunded, which means states would need to increase fees to cover not only the new systems they would need to build, but also for more staff to help with the verification of documents that would be required. The cost of a license would increase, probably double, and the time it woudl take to go through the lines would also increase, as the process would slow down some. This issue must be handle correctly at the beginning, and a clear thorough thought process must be used. This shouldn't be some quick reactive plan just so Congress can be seen as doing something for the US.

Anonymous    |    Commented March 18, 2010

Without any requirements for protecting what would become a large database, the first time a criminal breaks into any state DMV and creates a fake ID, the entire system is useless. If you don't provide data security this becomes a giant waste of time and money, and Congress would have to go through this all over again. The other problem is that this is unfunded, which means states would need to increase fees to cover not only the new systems they would need to build, but also for more staff to help with the verification of documents that would be required. The cost of a license would increase, probably double, and the time it woudl take to go through the lines would also increase, as the process would slow down some. This issue must be handle correctly at the beginning, and a clear thorough thought process must be used. This shouldn't be some quick reactive plan just so Congress can be seen as doing something for the US.

Anonymous    |    Commented March 18, 2010

Without any requirements for protecting what would become a large database, the first time a criminal breaks into any state DMV and creates a fake ID, the entire system is useless. If you don't provide data security this becomes a giant waste of time and money, and Congress would have to go through this all over again. The other problem is that this is unfunded, which means states would need to increase fees to cover not only the new systems they would need to build, but also for more staff to help with the verification of documents that would be required. The cost of a license would increase, probably double, and the time it woudl take to go through the lines would also increase, as the process would slow down some. This issue must be handle correctly at the beginning, and a clear thorough thought process must be used. This shouldn't be some quick reactive plan just so Congress can be seen as doing something for the US.

lucalu99    |    Commented April 12, 2012

i have no clue what this is but it screwed up a nintendo 3ds streetpass website called pass id wtf


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